Saturday, June 7, 2014

House Finches

My cat, Muffin, alerted me this morning to the spectacle going on outside. Oh, she didn't exactly approach me directly to inform me of this. Rather, she did her cat thing and spent much of the morning dashing from window to window in an attempt to get the best vantage point from which to watch the show. And I know enough to realize that she doesn't act this way unless there is something out there worthy of my time and attention.

As the various weeds and grasses once again reach maturity, the birds have descended upon them in a frenzy. For the last few days, I've been seeing them streak by my windows and have heard their peeps and tweets as they forage among the tall full-headed stalks of grass and other plants that are once again bearing their annual or biennial loads of seeds. There they were, dozens of them, flitting from place to place, from shrub to shrub, poking through the vegetation that grows near the back steps and flying back and forth from the top of the surrounding fences to the thick unruly growth just outside the bedroom window. Not until just now did I take the time to check on what type of birds these actually are, and a quick (because they don't stay in one place very long) look told me that they were all female house finches, the very drab nondescript counterpart to the more colorful males who sport bright red feathers on their heads.

There wasn't a male among them to be seen, and it caused me to wonder just what the ratio is of males to females and when exactly the boys come out to partake of the feast that, if this frenzy keeps up, will be short-lived at best. It doesn't take any time at all for a flock of birds, male or female, to totally deplete an area of desirable food, and I'm wondering if this isn't some kind of avian "early bird" shopping experience whereby the girls just HAVE to get there first for the best deals.

A few of them gathered briefly in the butterfly shrub next door where they were joined by a few monarch butterflies and honey bees, themselves feasting on the nectar hidden deep inside each tiny floret. They seemed oblivious to the birds' presence, and it appeared that there was plenty of room for all concerned as the various species did what comes naturally to them.

This is such a rich time of year. There is a distinct scent of ripeness in the air, trees and shrubs are as full as they're ever going to get during a single season, and it seems that they somehow know this as they dance about in the breeze when just a few days ago, they were sagging under the weight of the humidity that blanketed the area for several weeks. I'm hearing chickadees again, too, and remembering how they prefer cooler crisper weather, I welcome them back to the fence posts and feeder perches where their summer absence is always noticed and mourned.

The great finch invasion will continue until not a seed is left, much to my delight, for it's not much of a stretch for me to picture myself soaring with them on the air currents that dip and rise between the buildings and among the trees that delineate the properties here where the line between urban and rural is smudged, and some of each spills into the other, including flocks of birds that don't know or care that these are not open woods and fields but simply front lawns and back yards where small miracles, such as their exuberant foraging, happen almost everyday.

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